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Exploring the Colorado College Block Plan: An Intensive and Innovative Approach to Education

If you’re considering higher education in Colorado, you may have come across the unique Block Plan offered by Colorado College. This academic scheduling system, which has been in place for over 50 years, assigns each course to its block, which lasts for three and a half weeks.

But what makes Colorado College Block Plan so unique? In this article, we explore its history, structure, and benefits, as well as provide suggestions for making the most of the Block Plan system.

Key Takeaways

  • The Block Plan is a unique approach to higher education that is both intensive and innovative.
  • The Block Plan has been in place at Colorado College for over 50 years, and the college regards the system as a key factor in its reputation as a top-tier liberal arts college.
  • Each block lasts for three and a half weeks, during which students study only one course at a time.
  • The Block Plan promotes deep learning, interdisciplinary connections, and student engagement.
  • To succeed, students must be prepared for significant time management, high levels of self-discipline, and intense academic engagement.

A Brief History of the Colorado College Block Plan

Colorado College’s Block Plan was first proposed in 1941 by Professor Robert O. Anderson, who recognized the value of an education system that would enable students to focus exclusively on a single academic topic at a time. Anderson believed that this model could encourage creativity, deeper learning, and interdisciplinary connections.

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The Block Plan was introduced at Colorado College in 1970 and has been a central feature of the college ever since. The education model has also impressed other colleges worldwide, many of which have adopted similar systems.

Analyzing the Structure of the Block Plan

The Block Plan structure is intensive, rigorous, and in many ways, unique. Each block lasts for three and a half weeks, during which students take one course at a time. In a typical day, students will attend class for several hours, engage in group discussions or lab work, and work independently on course assignments. This focused approach on one course allows students to deeply engage with the material.

Each course is taught by one professor, with whom the students have the chance to connect closely. Additionally, students take four blocks of an interdisciplinary course called the “Cornerstone.” This allows them to learn how to integrate their learning across different fields of study.

Benefits and Limitations of the Block Plan

The Block Plan schedule carries a few benefits, including fewer distractions and interferences from other courses, classes, and assignments. It also allows for a deeper understanding of the material by enabling students to focus solely on a single subject at a time. They can work at a more methodical pace to learn thoroughly and engage in meaningful discussions.

However, the intense structure can be challenging, and students might need to curtail their social life to meet its rigorous demands. There may also be an initial learning curve in managing one’s workload against the Block Plan’s tight schedules.

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Suggestions and Tips for Navigating the Block Plan Successfully

For those who choose to enrol in the Colorado College Block Plan, there are specific ways to approach this system most effectively. Effective learning approaches include being organized, advocating for oneself, collaborating with professors, and engaging with a supportive college community.

Planning ahead and staying organized throughout the block schedule is a vital part of handling the intense academic environment. Keeping up with course readings, completing assignments on time, and active participation in group discussions are essential to succeed.

Building a strong rapport with professors offers students great insights on the learning involved and can help them navigate the subject better. Lastly, engaging with and building a support community from fellow students can also help students achieve academic success in this system.

Block Plan and Success of Graduates

Colorado College graduates are high achievers and are highly sought after for their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The Block Plan prepares them to become experts not just in their field of study, but in relating across various disciplines, creating diverse solutions for complex problems.

Graduates of Colorado College also tend to achieve top-tier graduate school placements and tend to have better job prospects overall. On the whole, the Block Plan serves as a highly effective preparation ground for higher education and future careers.


The Colorado College Block Plan is an innovative approach to education that has been in place for over 50 years. While it presents unique benefits to academically inclined students, it might not be ideal for everyone because of its intense structure. Still, if engineering innovative thinking skills, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary collaboration resonate with you, this system might provide you with the best fit.

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1. How many courses can students take under the Block Plan?

Students can take up to eight courses per academic year under the Block Plan.

2. How does the Block Plan schedule operate?

The Block Plan consists of eight blocks per year, lasting for three and a half weeks each. In a block, students usually take just one course. The breaks between the blocks are longer, and students usually use this time to engage in internships, travel, or study abroad opportunities.

3. Is the Block Plan unique to Colorado College?

While Colorado College is the most well-known institution that follows the Block Plan, there are several other colleges worldwide where similarly intensive academic programs operate. These colleges include Cornell College, Quest University, and Tusculum College.

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